Roc de Cambes
It is surely true that, while Roc de Cambes may not be a household name when it comes to the wines of Bordeaux, the name of its proprietor, François Mitjavile, will be familiar to anybody who knows St Emilion. François came to our attention in the 1980s when the wine of Château Tertre Roteboeuf was thrust into the spotlight, coming out top in a blind tasting in the Que Choisir? magazine. This was impressive not only because it usurped many of the grand names of St Emilion, but also because François achieved this having only taken on the running of the domaine, which belonged to his wife’s family, in 1978.
Only a few years after his prospects at Château Tertre Roteboeuf were so suddenly on the up, François received a telephone call from a friend who had heard of an interesting domaine for sale near Bourg. François had been looking for a new project for a little while, being keen to either expand or diversify, in order to gain some financial security. There was no suitable vineyard land available in St Emilion though, either that or what did crop up for sale was simply too expensive. So François had decided to consider options further afield, and this opportunity in Bourg seemed to fit the bill. The vineyard belonged to a French emigrant, now living in Singapore, who wished to sell.
François (pictured above) visited, and he was immediately captivated by the domaine’s magnificent terroir. Recounting the tale to me many years later it was clear that today, more than two decades on, François is still in awe of this vineyard, with its deep seams of cold limestone, and its rich clay soils. On that first visit he dug his hand into these soils, and he sensed immediately the quality of this land, and by extrapolation the potential of the wine. The year was 1988, and François decided to purchase the domaine on the spot.
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